My Roommate Amanda and I love Taylor Swift.
It was a huge part of why we knew we would last as roommates. 1989 came out as we were apartment hunting and we got the keys to our place on Taylor's 25th Birthday. For my 22nd Birthday her and my friend Reza hosted a surprise Party for me and played "22" as I entered and bought a Swan Floatie so we could recreate some Taylor-esque pics. The first time I ever got to see Taylor perform live was when she closed down Hollywood Blvd to perform on Jimmy Kimmel, I won tickets and naturally took Amanda.
So for Amanda's Birthday this year my friends had an idea, to recreate our favorite Taylor Albums and create a Calendar of them for Amanda. Needless to say it was the best idea of 2016. So we got to work in December by figuring out a diverse amount of Taylor Albums/Singles Artwork and then diving up who would pose for which. As Reza and I are the tech savvy ones of the group we took on the responsibilities of taking the photos and editing them to look as perfect as possible, like we got way too detail oriented about it.
When it came down to taking the photos we knew we had to somehow incorporate Amanda without her knowing. Luckily for us we had a perfect photo already on hand for a Bad Blood pic as Reza is an aspiring Photographer and usually brings us along when he wants to test out a new lens or location.
As for the cover photo we knew it had to be the 1989 Album but with Amanda's Initials and Birth Year. This took a little bit of photoshop to turn a T into an A and an S into a C because I was not about to just attempt to find a similar text (do you see how much of a perfectionist I become about the silliest details). Since we were all getting together for New Years Eve I made a plan to take individual photos of everyone against a plain white wall. Amanda kept wanting to include others in her photos and it took a little convincing without being obvious to get a photo with just her.
As for the rest of the photos we split the shoot into three Days for 11 different looks and ended up with a masterpiece.
Day One of the shoot probably had the biggest chunk of photos (I was not present this day because I went to Disneyland). The looks we were doing were Reina as Fearless, Yvette as Love Story, Reina and Yvette with our friend Jake as You Belong With Me, and Ellie (Reina and Yvette's Cat) to do Taylor's Debut Album. These are probably the most glamorous of the photos we took (though the process for Fearless was less so, watch the behind the scenes video at the bottom to find out why).
For our second day of shooting we took both of Brooks, Reza, I's photos. I just want to point out that when we began planning this out, the first person to call dibs on a photo was Brooks for Speak Now. I was a little surprised by this but had no doubt he would nail it, which he did. I think it's everyone's favorite photo from this project.
Reza wanted to do the covers of You're Not Sorry and Mean, two very different choices but both of which we were able to get in just a few takes.
For the final two shots of the day we did my covers of Red and Sweeter than Fiction. For Red I already had the perfect hat and took a white button up and drew some sharpie around the edges and buttons to replicate Taylor's shirt. Obviously I had to wear the classic Red Taylor Swift Lipstick, seriously how has she not released her own shade yet. Then it got nitpicky. We tried so hard to get the shadow just right covering my face the same way it covers Taylor's while also having my face at the right angle. Funny enough in the behind the scenes footage there's a second where it looks absolutely perfect.
The problem we had with Sweeter than Fiction was that we could not get my skirt to twirl. I don't know what kind of magic Reza did to make it look like that skirt was cooperative but we definitely tried everything. I spun (a lot), I tried swaying, I folded the skirt up to see if it was the length effecting it, I even tried holding it on its own to see if I could spin it by hand. Thankfully the final product doesn't let any of that struggle show.
For the final day I took Brad's We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and Ellie's Begin Again. Brad's shoot went really quick. We found a nice patch of grass right outside of his apartment snapped the shots and called it a day.
Ellie on the other hand was a whole other story. We spent probably 10 minutes just trying to get Ellie on the bed. We immediately gave up on the idea of having it look like Ellie was playing the guitar so instead we just propped it against a pillow. I ended up having to download an app for Cats where fish appear on the screen in order to get Ellie to stay on the bed and not run away. For whatever reason she actually looked at me when I said her name (trust me this is rare, she's a diva) and we got the shot.
After we finished taking all the photos Reza and I got to work in our photoshop lairs. With a little help to dropbox and gmail we were able to send our files back and forth in order to make adjustments and assist in areas the other didn't know as well. Finally after four days of back and forth we sent the photos to the lab, aka Costco, to print out some 8x8 pics. Since we had only started making this a week before Amanda's birthday (we didn't procrastinate, we just went home for the holidays) we didn't have time to send the Calendar to be printed so that meant DIYing it. Luckily I love crafts so I took this responsibility upon myself. While editing the pics I also created a Calendar Template. This allowed a lot more freedom to add special dates specific to Amanda and our group of friends to be in the Calendar. In addition to all of our birthdays I put in a lot of Cat specific Holidays, and Taylor Swift related events such as the dates each album was released, when she won her Grammy's for Album of the Year, and also the Anniversary of when we saw the 1989 World Tour. I then matched the border to be a complementing color of the Album Cover for that month, printed it out on cardstock, cut it to size, and attached two pink ribbons on either end to put it together.
We gave Amanda the Calendar the day after her birthday as we were surprising her with a trip to Crumbs and Whiskers, a Cat Cafe in Los Angeles which is basically a foster home for cats so you can come in a play with them and if you fall in love with them you can adopt them (Amanda's obsessed with it and sends me screens shots of their snapchats and instagram posts on the daily). She definitely had no idea it was happening and had thought she had gotten all of her birthday surprises.
Amanda definitely loved the gift and it was so fun to watch her reaction to each photo (obviously the Speak Now photo had the best reaction). Afterwords we went back to our place and watched the behind the scenes video Reza had put together. It was the perfect touch on an amazing day.
You can watch the behind the scenes video below from Amanda's Channel and hopefully this inspires anyone reading this to get crafting. Despite all of the hard work and time that went into this, this is definitely one of my favorite gifts I've ever given.